Never before have I felt so guilty about some of the ridiculous things I have complained about in my life. Although I work actively to be grateful for what I have in my life, I know I have also been someone who has complained about the most unimportant crap, e.g. I couldn’t find my favourite cereal or wine. The dishes didn’t get done. That sort of unimportant first world stuff.
Well, not only does India have a way of reminding you of how lucky you are by seeing the overwhelmingly sad poverty which surrounds you, but getting to know the locals can be even more eye opening.
My friend in reception (who broke his ankle a couple of weeks ago but had to complete his 12 hour shift before being allowed to visit a doctor) and I were chatting for sometime. Whilst walking out to do my washing I noticed he was still sitting in the same position as he had been some hours early, hence I thought I would stop and say hi. There is absolutely nothing to do once he has cleaned all the rooms. Just wait.
Long story short, I found out he is very poor. At 23 he is working to support his family of four. A months wage is the equivalent of $140AUD. His mother and father do not work as they need to stay home to take care of his 26 year old brother who has Polio. Both of his legs do not work and so his parents need to care for him. I asked if his brother is in a wheelchair to which I shockingly found out he does not have. A wheelchair is too expensive and so his mother and father carry their son to wherever he needs to go - the toilet, to bed, outdoors etc. He is carried everywhere. My heart sank. I was mortified. And they survive on $140AUD per month!
With every ounce of will I held back the tears until I was back safely in my room hidden away. What a tragedy. Here I am complaining my jeans don’t fit (for example), and then you meet people who are living this way. Without complaint and always maintaining a smile. I’m absolutely ashamed.
So - I have been researching the cost of a decent wheelchair and this can be purchased for around $150-$300AUD. I have since approached my father, who is a member of Rotary Club, to see if they would fund the purchase of this wheelchair. I know Rotary are doing some huge work globally to try and eradicate Polio so I thought they may be interested in the cause. If not, I will seek funding externally or will just purchase the wheelchair myself. There is no way I can leave without doing this for this wonderful young man and his family. A small amount of money for us would make a world of difference to them. It may even allow for the father to go back to work and therefore relieve some of the pressure for my friend.
I also want to get something to help relieve the boredom. Today he is working 24 hours and has nothing to do but sit and wait. Alone. The owners of my apartment building don’t leave a computer for the boys to look on, and this particular young man doesn’t have a phone so he can’t even sit and look on the internet while he waits. As he would have access to free internet here, I have thought about buying him a simple Android phone but I will chat with my man Ganesh tomorrow (who has arranged all my transport and travel post Mysore) to see what his thoughts are about what to get him. Books are an idea but I’m not sure if he can read. Plus, a book can be read and finished. But the internet would give him access to infinite resources. There is, however, a lot to take into consideration: 1) I don’t want to cause any problems with his employer so I would need to seek the employers opinion and approval (for him to look on his phone during the day) prior to purchase; 2) it could put him in danger back home as he no doubt lives in a very poor area where people are desperate. A phone is worth money and could be stolen and sold; 3) I also don’t want the other boys to think I am favouring one over the other.
Other thoughts have been to get a whole heap of communal books which stay in reception - of all different types. Fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi. Then they can all read them whilst waiting. Or, seek funding to get a laptop that all three could share and stays here at Goodtouch Apartments. Again, I would need to seek the owners approval and ensure this would not a) get them in trouble if they look on the computer during the day or b) be taken from them once I left. I’m certainly open to any suggestions from people so feel free to email them through.
Earlier today I was being followed by a scungy pooch who was clearly hungry. Being the animal lover I am I bought the pooch a packet of biscuits and fed them to him. When I placed water next to him whilst he was eating he started growling at me. Note to self: Don’t feed a starving dog and then go near it whilst it’s eating. I gave him the whole packet and then wandered home. It was nice knowing he had something in his belly for today.
Other than washing and the above, I have spent my day working on my thesis for class. I have chosen to do mine on the Classic Migraine. Turns out this is a very complex area!
Again, any ideas for how to relieve the boredom for these boys, please don’t hesitate to email me. Ganesh will also guide me in the right direction as he will know what is best to do. So watch this space for a donation page I will pull together. Every cent will help.